How Cliff Richard Got His Hands on a Song Meant for Elvis Presley

TL;DR:

  • A songwriter said one of his tunes “took a shadowy path to get to” Elvis Presley.
  • The song was initially recorded by Cliff Richard.
  • Richard’s and Elvis’ versions of the song garnered different receptions from the public.
Elvis Presley playing songs on a guitar
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Many of Elvis Presley‘s songs were covers but some were written for him. One of the songs written for him was initially recorded by 1950s rock star Cliff Richard. Subsequently, the song’s co-writer worried the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll wouldn’t record the track.

A song wasn’t included on an Elvis Presley album by mistake

Paul Evans is a songwriter. He wrote a handful of songs for the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” singer. In his 2021 book Happy Go Lucky Me: A Lifetime of Music, he discussed some of those songs.

“Presley recorded four of my songs,” he wrote. “The first was ‘I Gotta Know‘, a song that took a shadowy path to get to Elvis. It was scheduled to be recorded and released in Elvis’ next album, Elvis Is Back, in 1960, but by mistake the song found its way into a package of songs sent to the Hill & Range London office to be shown to Cliff Richard.”

RELATED: This Singer Said Elvis Presley Was a ‘Good Person’ Because of 1 Thing He Did When He Recorded Songs

Why the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll eventually performed the song

Evans revealed why Richard recorded “I Gotta Know.” “Cliff liked the song and recorded it for his own album, Cliff Sings, released in 1959,” he said. “As a rule, Elvis would never cover another artist’s recording. Any Elvis recording had to be the first time the song was ever heard, with the exception of a standard like ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?‘” 

Evans explained why Elvis recorded “I Gotta Know” even though Richard recorded it first. “But I got lucky,” he opined. “[Music publisher] Freddy Bienstock managed to keep the Cliff Richard recording quiet, and my song came out on a Presley single as a B-side to ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?'”

RELATED: Elvis Presley Made 1 of His Girlfriends Promise to Sing Rock Songs and Now She’s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The way Cliff Richard’s ‘I Gotta Know’ and Elvis Presley’s renditions performed on the charts in the United States

Richard’s version of “I Gotta Know” was not a single. Therefore, it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s album, Cliff Sings, did not chart on the Billboard 200.

On the other hand, Elvis’ version of the song became a minor hit. It peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for 11 weeks. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s “I Gotta Know” appeared on the album Elvis’ Golden Records Volume 3. The album hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200. It stayed on the chart for 63 weeks.

“I Gotta Know” became a hit even if it took a winding path to get to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

RELATED: A Songwriter Nearly Screamed When a Star Other Than Elvis Presley Was Going to Record His Song